2011 Chrysler 200 Sedan and Convertible Reviews
The Chrysler Group developed the new Chrysler 200 to replace the Sebring.By Bruce and Bradley Hubbard
Auto Advisor Group
Special to The Auto Channel
Taking the success of the Chrysler 300 they decided to call the all new sedan the 200. It was to be a smaller version of the 300 with all new systems. With a team of engineers and designers at Chrysler and Fiat they went to work seven days a week to accomplish development of the all new Chrysler 200 in record time.
The group knew they were competing with Kia, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, and the Chevrolet Malibu. They have succeeded and the new 200 has more quality, better engineering and world class engines and transmissions.
The turnaround was a must for the Chrysler Group. They knew that the public was dissatisfied with previous model that the Chrysler 200 replaced. Some journalist and analyst state Sebring’s problems were a result of the Daimler and Cerberus cost cutting. The cost cutting delivered a sedan that had flaws in not just quality and fit and finish but even the drive trains.
Fiat and Chrysler have put real quality into the Chrysler 200. A one piece dash engineers and designers applaud. Oliver Francoise runs the Chrysler / Lancia brands. He stated that they put the quality into the new 200 to meet customers’ expectations.
The use of soft touch vinyl and leathers was a plus. The Chrysler 200’s new ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE system is superb. It meets and exceeds the competition with even the more expensive Lincoln MKZ and other Luxury brands. Noise, vibration and harshness have refined the inside of the cabin delivering to the passengers one of the quietest vehicles in this segment. Over 45 sound deadening actions were taken according to Chrysler to achieve their low NVH. This included even acoustic windshield and laminated side glass.
At out media preview Chrysler designers were proud of the new Chrysler Wing on the grill. They changed the previous design and it works. The world has seen this new wing thanks to the advertisement Chrysler did at the Super Bowl. The success of the two-minute advertisement is a sign that Chrysler is back but that they are proud to build the 200 in Sterling Heights, Michigan. The “Imported from Detroit” commercial has been nothing but phenomenal for the Chrysler Group. Oliver Francoise was the man behind the tag line.
The Chrysler Group is very pleased with the entirely new sheet metal that makes the 200 a looker. Oliver Francoise states that the taillights are LED and clearly make the Chrysler 200 stands out from the rear view. Out front we find projector headlamps that are great looking and highly efficient when they light up the highway in front of you as you drive the highways of the world. Later I hope they offer adaptive control headlamps that turn in the direction your steering wheel turn. The bang for the buck is obvious to me with the new 200. Imagine you get a new sophisticated suspension system that has been tuned for the North American roads. Chrysler Group decided to even offer the new 200 at a price that was $800.00 lower than the previous Sebring to help bring in customers.
The marketing expertise for the new 200 and 300 comes from the Lancia brand-marketing expert Oliver Francoise (see photos) according to Sergio Marchionne. Sergio also states that Chrysler will spend a lot of money promoting the new nameplate.
The Chrysler 200 offers the World Engine for the base model. It is a 2.4-liter four cylinder mated to a four- speed automatic. The other engine is seen not just on the Chrysler 200 but also on other Chrysler products for 2011. It is a class-leading engine V-6 that delivers more horsepower than the competition. To deliver the 260-foot pounds of torque to the pavement the Pentastar is a six-speed automatic that delivers great fuel economy while giving out 290 horses. The Pentastar benefits from aluminum exhaust manifold and polymer-coated piston skirts, forged connecting rods and a high-pressure die cast-aluminum block. Expertise at Fiat with small vehicles has led to a dual-dry clutch or DDCT that works similar to a manual transmission.
To be in the loop with the competition the Chrysler 200 comes with hands free phone, navigation, IPod, Bluetooth and even Sirus and Uconnect navigation connected to its GPS. Drivers are able to avoid traffic thanks to Sirus traffic updates. The hands free Uconnect phone is voice activated and phones that have Bluetooth are easily connected.
The phone can be activated from the new leather wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel that has redundant controls for cruise, radio and the phone.
Engineers took the new sheet metal of the Chrysler 200 and designed a superior suspension system for FWD and the All-Wheel-Drive models first by lowering the front 12mm and rear 6mm. That with an improved steering system including steering gear and a steering pump plus bushing improvements gives you a more German feel in the steering. They also increased spring rates of the front and rear stabilizer bars.
Of course the new 200 has numerous safety and security systems. Including all-speed-traction control, abs brakes plus brake assist for emergency situations. Plus their brake traction control system that keeps driving wheels from spinning. The traction control system called electronic stability control at Chrysler uses brake and throttle to keep the vehicle on track.
One exciting addition to the 200 brand is the Convertible . “The coming out of the stylish new 200 Convertible at the Chicago Auto Show completes the brand transformation in conjunction with the largest consumer auto show in the country,” said Olivier Francois, CEO — Chrysler Brand, Chrysler Group LLC.
The Chrysler Group states that virtually every part of the suspension on the new 200 Convertible has been retuned or redesigned for 2011, including 22 of 28 suspension bushings, providing drivers a fun, confident, handling performance in all driving situations, whether it’s commuting to work or a weekend adventure on scenic roads.
A new and improved powertrain lineup also contributes to the new 200 Convertible’s driving experience. The 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible is available with the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine which provides exceptional driving fun. The 200 convertible also is available with the proven 2.4-liter I4 World Gas Engine. Both engines are mated to a six-speed transmission. I assume soon this six-speed automatic will be available in the Sedan also.
With a starting U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $27,195 (including $750 destination) the 2011 Chrysler 200 Convertible will be available in three different configurations in the United States – the Chrysler 200 Convertible Touring model, 200 Convertible Limited model and the 200 Convertible S (late availability) model. All are packed with style, safety, innovative features and a dynamic, open-air driving experience at a surprising value.
I have driven so many Sebring Convertibles over the past twenty years. I have even rented Sebring convertibles in Vegas, Miami and Sarasota to see how the “rental” companies did with the convertible. In the warm climates they are a real winner for the rental companies. The soft top is ideal for the rental car firms.
It took the designers and engineers almost a year to redesign and engineer this important 200 convertible for the Chrysler Group. Improvements have been done to the dash and most of the interior. A lot of other improvements have been made since it is a convertible. The Chrysler Group through design and engineering efforts with Lancia, Maserati, Fiat, Alfa will undoubtedly show the World that they can build a great convertible from the 200.
The new Chrysler 200 is an example of what the new Chrysler Group wants the public to see in their company. The new Chrysler Group is on a roll and I expect even better things in the near future.
Talking about the future Chrysler/Fiat announced a the Geneva show that the Chrysler 200 will be rebadged as the Flavia and sell under the Lancia brand in Europe. Other vehicles like the Chrysler Town and Country will also be sold in Europe. Lancia feels that the big seller will be the Flavia (200) convertible. Jeep expects they will be selling potentially 300,000 vehicles in Europe. Expect to hear a lot more about Alfa, Maseratti and Fiat vehicles for the North American market.